Kliff Kingsbury on Fitzgerald: ‘He has an incredible desire to be great’

In his 16th season, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald is still playing at a fairly high level in 2019. After six games, Fitzgerald is leading the Cardinals in receptions(35), receiving yards(427), and is second on the team in receiving touchdowns(2). He is doing all this at the age of 36.

In his first season as Cardinals head coach, Kliff Kingsbury is seeing up close and personal what makes Fitzgerald so great.

“He has an incredible desire to be great, you watch it in practice, I watched it all spring,” Kingsbury said during a conference call on Wednesday. “He is going full speed in every rep he took all spring, all training camp, every practice. You have to kind of pull him off the field because he wants to get every rep and wants to continue to get better and wants to be coached. He’s just a unique talent, a unique person, and I feel very lucky to be around him.”

Obviously, when his career ends, Fitzgerald is going to the Hall of Fame, and fortunately for Arizona, they have a veteran that can show their rookie QB and number one overall pick in this year’s draft, Kyler Murray, how to be a professional. Murray has been solid thus far this season, and having a guy like Fitzgerald around will only make him better. 

After six games, Murray has thrown for 1664 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions. Also, Murray is doing it with his legs, as he has rushed for 238 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. If Murray continues to play well, it could prolong Fitzgerald’s career, and according to Kingsbury, Murray is doing everything the team has asked of him.

“He’s shown he is willing to work and progress,” Kingsbury said. “He’s really adjusted his game over the first month and a half to fit what we do offensively and limit his negative plays. He’s doing all the things that we’ve asked him to do, which has been huge. We knew he had the talent to be a special player, and it’s all about work ethic and the price you are willing to pay once you get here, and he’s starting to show those things.”

If Fitzgerald can continue to play well, maybe the Murray to Fitzgerald connection can keep going for years to come in Arizona, which would make for good times in the desert. 

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Jones on his four starts: ‘I’ve been inconsistent overall’

One month ago tomorrow, Pat Shurmur shook up the Giants’ world when he announced that rookie Daniel Jones was replacing 16-year veteran and franchise icon Eli Manning as the starting quarterback.

Jones has since started four games – a quarter of an NFL season – winning the first two and losing the most recent two, including a 35-14 defeat at New England last Thursday. The 2-4 Giants are preparing to host the 2-3-1 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, but today marked a natural point to reflect on the transition at the game’s most important position.

“I talked to him last week, I said it’s kind of an interesting month he had,” Shurmur said. “He went through a lot in the first month, learned a lot and did a lot of really good things. We’re looking forward to him continuing to improve in all facets of playing quarterback.”

On Sept. 22, Jones had the best starting debut of any quarterback in Giants history. He led the team from an 18-point halftime deficit to a 32-31 victory at Tampa Bay while completing 23 of 36 passes for 336 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 112.7. Jones did lose two fumbles. But he also led the team with 28 rushing yards on four carries, including two seven-yard touchdowns, the last which scored the deciding points on fourth down with 1:16 remaining in the game. Two days later, he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

The following week, Jones threw for another touchdown, and his first two interceptions, in a 24-3 trouncing of Washington. But losses to Minnesota and the Patriots have evened Jones’ record at 2-2. And he has thrown more picks (six) than touchdown passes (five).

“I think it’s been, looking back on the month, kind of up and down,” Jones said. “I’ve been inconsistent overall. I’ve been good and been bad. I think there are certainly a lot of things to learn. When you look at the scheme or some of the decisions, some of my habits or bad habits, I think there are a lot of things to learn. So, I’ll kind of separate those problems, (and) those individual issues and try to improve. But also, just getting more comfortable and getting more accustomed to what we are doing. I think I’ll continue to learn and grow, but I’ve certainly had the opportunity to learn a lot this month.”

Shurmur was asked today about Jones learning to find a balance between throwing the ball away and keeping it in an effort to make a play. It’s one of the many facets of quarterback play the 22-year-old is continuing to work on.

“You have to be a good decision-maker early, in the middle and late in downs.” Shurmur said. “Young players that are hyper competitive like he is, they try to make a play all the way throughout. But as you go through this as a quarterback, there are times when it’s important you use your legs and unfortunately throw the ball away. They get used to that as they go. Just like he’s getting used to every single thing.”

Jones has yet to play without a full complement of offensive weapons. That will likely happen again on Sunday, as wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Wayne Gallman remain in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

In his first two starts, Jones was without wide receiver Golden Tate, who was serving an NFL suspension. Saquon Barkley sprained his ankle in the first half against the Buccaneers and has not played since. He was joined on the inactive list for the New England game by Shepard, Gallman and tight end Evan Engram (knee).

But the Giants’ most valuable ball-handlers are working their way back. Tate played in the last two games, and against the Patriots caught six passes for 102 yards, including a 64-yarder for the team’s only touchdown.

Both Barkley and Engram were full participants in practice today, seemingly making it more likely they will play against Arizona.

But when asked if it is “reasonable to assume” they will play on Sunday, Shurmur said, “We’ll just see what the week holds. I’m sure everyone has questions with regard to it, but they practiced today and they did well. So we’ll just see.”

Jones was similarly cautious when asked how the offense changes with Barkley in the backfield.

“I think we’re going to take it day by day and see how he feels,” Jones said. “I know he’s been working hard, so we’ll see. Hopefully, we’ll have him out there.”

Engram reiterated today what he said Monday, that he feels good and will play.

“It’s going to be good getting back out there,” Engram said. “I was pretty down about missing last Thursday and I’m definitely really hungry. Getting back out there is going to be fun. I’m going to be a kid in the candy shop again and just go out there and have fun, make some plays.”

Barkley is scheduled to speak to the media tomorrow.

Tate is looking forward to lining up with Barkley. He has yet to play in a game with the splendid running back, including the preseason (when Barkley didn’t play a down).

“I’m excited to be on the field with him and block for him and whatever is needed to help him score and help us win,” Tate said. “He’s a huge part of this offense, we’re excited about it. We have to do our jobs the best we can to spring each other.”

If Barkley, Engram and Tate all play, it will give the Giants a good chunk of the arsenal they envisioned having, and perhaps help makes Jones’ second month more successful than the first.

“Just more options, we can spray the ball everywhere, which makes it tough to cover us,” Tate said. “The more options we have the better off we are, the better team we are. I know we are all excited.”

*Rookie cornerback Corey Ballentine did not practice after becoming the fourth Giants player to enter the NFL concussion protocol.

The other three – Shepard, Gallman and defensive tackle Olsen Pierre – were on the field with non-contact restrictions and were officially limited.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone talks Jalen Ramsey

It finally happened! The Jacksonville Jaguars finally traded fourth-year CB Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a 2020 first-round draft selection, a 2021 first-round draft selection, and a 2021 fourth-round draft selection.

Ramsey, who requested a trade from Jacksonville, had missed the past three games with a back injury.

On Wednesday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone discussed the trade of Ramsey.

(On how relieving it is to have the Jalen Ramsey trade situation over)

“I never really looked at it that way. I looked at it as obviously I had a good relationship with him and we were working together to get him healthy and get him on the field, and that’s where my focus was, so he can get on the field and help us win football games. Now I’m concentrated on the players that are here and getting our guys focused on Cincinnati.”

(On if he respects the way Ramsey handled himself over the past month)

“I respect everyone that’s in that locker room in the way they handle a lot of their things. I think it’s difficult, especially when a player’s injured and doing everything they can to get back, so I have no issues.”

(On if he was surprised that Ramsey was traded yesterday)

“I think in this league nothing ever really surprises me anymore, especially from the business side of things. I found out kind of like everybody else did late last night. [General Manager] Dave [Caldwell] came in and told me.”

(On what is preventing other players from exaggerating an injury with the purpose of refusing to play)

“I think we have to be careful when we say that this is a blueprint with the injury and wanting to move, because obviously he did have an injury. So, I don’t even want to go there. How to stop anyone else from doing it? I can’t answer that question, I really can’t.”

(On what he believes went wrong with Ramsey)

“Well I was doing everything I can. We were talking every day. We talked last night afterwards, so I can’t speak for that. I was trying, busting my butt, to get him healthy and get him out there. That’s a great question for him. I think he’s the only one that’s going to be able to answer that.”

(On how he addressed the trade with the team today)

“I said, ‘We made the trade last night and that [we] appreciate what Jalen has done for our football team and being part of this football team. And we wish him the best of luck and we have to focus on Cincinnati. We’re going to get a lot of questions today from the media about what’s going on. I’m not telling you guys what to say, I’m just telling you what I’m going to say and I’m going to get my focus back on the team which is my job.’ And that’s exactly what I told them almost word for word.”

(On if a leader of the team had ever said to him that the Ramsey situation was a distraction)

“No. Other things, yes, that’s part of it. We have a committee and there’s things that come up. ‘Hey coach, what do you think about this?’ And you work with the players. And I think they’ll tell you that we’ve worked through a lot of things. I think it’s helped this football team. I think it will continue to help this football team. The more communication in anything that you do, the better it’s going to be. I really believe that.”

(On if he feels that what the Jaguars received in the Ramsey trade is a fair resolution of the trade demand)

“My son asked me the same question. I told him, ‘I don’t know the analytics of all that.’ So, like I said, that future stuff, I’m concentrated on now.”

(On if he needs analytics to formulate an opinion on the Ramsey trade)

“I’m sure five years from now, 10 years from now, someone will be able to write about it. It’s not my job to do that. And again, I know you guys are probably frustrated, but you’re talking to a guy that has a big job to get the players ready. That we’re discussing something that has nothing to do with where my mind is right now, honestly, and I respect the hell out of you guys, you know that. I just wish I can give you the insight and the answers that that question needs to be answered. I don’t have that. And I wish we could get someone up here that can answer it, I do, but it’s me. So, I really – you don’t know. You don’t know until down the road.”

(On what the feeling was like with Jalen Ramsey)

“I keep trying to tell everyone, we had a very good relationship. I told him the same thing – I appreciate what you have done, I wish you the best and I’ll see you in the summer. I see him in the summer. We are right down the road from each other [in Tennessee]. I wish him the best. I really do.”

(On why Jalen Ramsey didn’t play Sunday)

“Everything is, like I said before, a collaborative effort. Doctors, trainers, players, for all injured players. We are working out and we are progressing, and it got to a point where [his back] wasn’t where we would be able to put him out there and be able to perform. That’s exactly what happened. No different than a lot of the other guys that [have injuries] happen, nothing unusual of how that goes.”

(On if he spends any time looking back and trying to figure out where things went wrong with Jalen Ramsey or second-guessing how the franchise approached his situation)

“I don’t have the time honestly. I am always disappointed in myself first that I couldn’t do a better job. That is just how I am wired. I am not a martyr or anything like that. My job is the coaches, myself, getting the team ready.  How the franchise [does things] … that’s above me. I don’t have the time to think about that.”

(On if the Jalen Ramsey situation made his job harder)

“I don’t see it harder or easier. I think being a head coach in the NFL is always hard. I don’t think that ever changes. I think it’s a privilege. It’s an honor. It’s one that I don’t take lightly, so I put a lot of effort into doing the best job I can and being the best leader I can. That is what I’m trying to do. I don’t look at outside forces creating things for me. I think sometimes you have some tough luck. I think last year with the injuries, that was kind of tough. That’s the only thing that I really look at that makes it tough, when you have a lot of injuries and you can’t go out there full strength.”

Jaguars trade Jalen Ramsey to Rams

The Jacksonville Jaguars have traded fourth-year CB Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a 2020 first-round draft selection, a 2021 first-round draft selection and a 2021 fourth-round draft selection.

The Jaguars now have 18 picks, including four first-round selections, over the next two drafts.

In 2020, the Jaguars currently hold nine selections (Jacksonville’s first-round pick, Los Angeles Rams’ first-round pick, Jacksonville’s second-round pick, Jacksonville’s third-round pick, Jacksonville’s fourth-round pick, Los Angeles Rams’ fifth-round pick, Jacksonville’s sixth-round pick, Seattle’s sixth-round pick and Jacksonville’s seventh-round pick).

In 2021, the Jaguars currently hold nine selections (Jacksonville’s first-round pick, Los Angeles Rams’ first-round pick, Jacksonville’s second-round pick, Jacksonville’s third-round pick, Jacksonville’s fourth-round pick, Los Angeles Rams’ fourth-round pick, Jacksonville’s fifth-round pick, Jacksonville’s sixth-round pick, and Jacksonville’s seventh-round pick).

In 2022, the Jaguars currently hold their original seven selections.

Shurmur on Barkley’s return: ‘He practiced today, so we’ll see when he comes in tomorrow how he feels’

The Giants today welcomed back two key offensive players to practice in running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram. They hope each will be available to play Sunday, when the Giants host the Arizona Cardinals.

Barkley has missed three games because of the sprained ankle he suffered in the victory at Tampa Bay on Sept. 22. Engram did not play last Thursday at New England because of a knee injury.

Coach Pat Shurmur wasn’t specific about how many reps Barkley took at practice but did reveal what the team’s leading rusher must do to return to the field against the Cardinals.

“He has to handle practice well and be ready to play,” Shurmur said. “He practiced today, so we’ll see when he comes in tomorrow how he feels. Then the next day and so on and so forth.”

Asked about his hopes for Barkley playing on Sunday, Shurmur said, “We’ll just have to see. I’m going to let the week kind of determine that.”

Shurmur said Engram “did a lot” in practice.

“I feel really good,” Engram said. “Got out there, was running around. It was good to get out there moving around. I’ve got a long week to get ready, so coach is taking care of us, but we did get some good work in. It felt good today.”

Engram was hurt against Minnesota on Oct. 6, giving him scant time to recover in time for last Thursday night’s game in New England.

“Definitely, last week was tough, and the short week didn’t really help, but today with the rest that I got, I felt really good,” Engram said.

The third-year pro missed three games last season with a knee injury but said the two issues are dissimilar.

“It’s definitely not as severe,” Engram said. “That was kind of the thing, I could tell a good difference from experiencing what I went through last year. So, it was definitely kind of a common feeling, but the trainers have done a good job of getting me ready and getting the recovery going.”

Engram said he is “pretty optimistic” he will play on Sunday.

Two other key offensive contributors – wide receiver Sterling Shepard and running back Wayne Gallman – remain in the concussion protocol. Both were on the field wearing yellow “no contact” vests over their jerseys.

“Anytime there’s an individual in the protocol or coming back from a concussion, the doctors will let us know when they’re allowed to be playing,” Shurmur said. “So, that’s where we’re at. I really don’t have anything to add. I understand the interest in all of this, but there’s really nothing that I can add.”

*Barkley, Engram and Shepard didn’t travel to New England for the game last week, but that didn’t preclude them from being good teammates.

“We watched the game together, it was fun,” Engram said. “It was definitely hard not being out there with the guys, but the team played their butts off and we were in it. But yeah, we watched it together.”

*The Giants today bolstered their wide receivers unit with a familiar face when they re-signed Bennie Fowler, who was released on Oct. 1. Fowler played in the season’s first four games with two starts and caught 12 passes for 99 yards with a long reception of 17 yards and added a 20-yard run. Since joining the Giants on Oct. 16, 2018, Fowler has 28 catches for 298 yards and one touchdown in 14 games, seven of them starts.

To create room on the roster, the Giants terminated the contract of linebacker Nate Stupar, who played in three games with one start since he was re-signed on Sept. 24. A Riley Dixon punt caromed off Stupar’s (who was the up-back) helmet, which resulted in a Patriots touchdown at New England.

This was the third roster move the Giants made since their loss last week. On Friday, they re-signed quarterback Alex Tanney and cut running back Austin Walter. The previous day, the Giants released their No. 3 quarterback and signed Walter off the practice squad because they wanted to have a third running back available for the game.

Also Friday, the Giants signed running back Javorius “Buck” Allen, who played in 54 games with six starts for the Baltimore Ravens from 2015-18. His career totals include 340 carries for 1,249 yards and eight touchdowns, plus 129 receptions for 814 yards in six scores. Last year, Allen played in 14 games and had 41 carries for 110 yards and three touchdowns – one in each of the first three games – and caught 35 passes for 196 yards and two scores.

Allen was signed as a free agent on May 28 by the New Orleans Saints, who released him on Aug. 9.

“We’re glad he’s here,” Shurmur said. “He was available, we worked him out and we’ll get him going as quickly as possible.”

“It’s a blessing, we have great talented guys here,” Allen said. “You don’t miss anything until it’s gone, and I missed it. It’s a blessing to be on this team, I am here to do whatever they need me to do. If that’s running, catching, hitting, whatever it is, I’m here to do it.”

In a corresponding move, the Giants waived running back Jon Hilliman, who rushed for 91 yards on 30 carries, but lost a fumble in each of the last two games.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘Never said guarantee a win; I’d never do that’

On Sunday in Minnesota, the Philadelphia Eagles had a very forgettable day, especially their secondary, who was torched by Kirk Cousins and the Vikings’ offense, as Philadelphia was defeated by Minnesota 38-20. Cousins threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, and Vikings WR Stefon Diggs had three touchdown receptions.

At this point, the Eagles’ defense is struggling, and the team is currently 3-3, but fortunately for Philadelphia, they are tied for first place in the NFC East with the Cowboys, who they play next Sunday night in Dallas.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is very confident in his team’s chances against Dallas, and on Monday morning in a radio interview on 94.1 WIP in Philadelphia, Pederson had this to say.

“We’re going down to Dallas, and our guys are gonna be ready to play, and we’re gonna win that football game, and when we do, we’re in first place in the NFC East,” he said. “We control our own destiny. We’re right where we need to be.”

This afternoon during a press conference, Pederson denied that he guaranteed victory.

“Never said guarantee a win,” Pederson said. “I’d never do that. No.”

Pederson went on to say the following:

“We’re tied for first place in the NFC East. We have a great opportunity against a great football team on Sunday night to go down and attempt to win a football game. Our goals don’t change, to try to go 1-0, and you put the tape on this morning and you watch it, and we’re just missing on a couple little detail things and obviously it starts with the coaches and it starts with me. We have to make sure that there’s great communication in the meetings, in the walk-through and how we practice and what we do in practice to make sure that we don’t make these mistakes in game. For instance, the coverage that we talked about, the blown coverage in the secondary, or the communication up front on run plays or pass protection, things of that nature.

“There’s enough good and positive that came out of this game from that standpoint to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to continue to improve. Again, Dallas is a great football team. They are reeling like we are, and they are going to come out and play hard. They always have. They beat us twice last year. We have a lot of things stacked against us going down there, but as the head football coach, I’m going to stand here and show confidence in my football team because that’s what I have. I have confidence in my football team, the guys that are on the football field, and it’s our job as coaches to prepare them, get them ready to play, and we go play.”

Philadelphia must address a lot of issues if they want to get back on track. The secondary is bad, and maybe some help could be on the way with the possible return of  Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills. Unfortunately, it might not be the Jalen they need(Ramsey), but hopefully, the secondary can get better over time, or the pass rush can improve, but for now, it’s on to Dallas.

Bridgewater: ‘I’m definitely getting comfortable just with all the guys’

When Saints QB Drew Brees injured his thumb in Week 2 against the Rams, many thought New Orleans would struggle without their 12-time Pro Bowler. But, fortunately for the Saints, the defense has stepped up, special teams have stepped up, and so has their backup QB, Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater, 26, is 4-0 as a starter since replacing Brees, and each week he keeps getting better. In Week 5, Bridgewater threw four touchdowns passes against Tampa Bay. On Sunday, Bridgewater was solid as the Saints were able to go on the road to defeat the Jaguars 13-6.

Against Jacksonville, the six-year veteran completed 24 of 36 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown, and more importantly, the Saints are 5-1.

“We had a couple struggles early in the game, but great teams always try to find a way to win each football game, and that’s what we were able to do today,” Bridgewater said on Sunday. “Specialists did a great job with changing the field position, defense did a great job of, you know, keeping those guys from crossing the 50, and we came home with the win.

“Like I said, great teams find a way to win football games. We knew that there was going to be a fight coming out this way, with different elements and things like that, but it feels to get back on the plane and heading back to New Orleans with a win.”

Bridgewater, who signed a one-year, $7.25 million deal with New Orleans in the offseason, is the highest-paid backup QB in football, and as the weeks go by, Bridgewater feels he is getting more and more comfortable with his teammates.

“Yeah, I’m definitely getting comfortable just with all the guys,” Bridgewater said. “Of course, we scored a little today, mainly me with some accuracy things. But overall man, these guys, we work extremely hard throughout the week just trying to continue to build that chemistry. Today, Jared(Cook) had a solid day for us, and Mike(Thomas), even Mike, had some catches. It’s good to just continue to get those guys involved, and they help this team win football games.”

In five games this season, Bridgewater has thrown for 1,089 yards with seven touchdowns and only two interceptions. Bridgewater is doing his job, and hopefully, for Saints fans, he can continue to hold down the fort until Brees returns.

 

Thielen on Cousins: ‘He is going to prove that he is a top quarterback in this league’

In the last two weeks, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is starting to play like the “84 Million Dollar Man.” In Week 5 against the Giants, Cousins threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns, and on Sunday against Philadelphia; he threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns as the Vikings defeated the visiting Eagles 38-20.

After struggling in the first few weeks of the season, Cousins, who signed a three-year, $84 million contract in 2018, seems to have hit his stride, which is a good thing for Minnesota. Vikings WR Adam Thielen, who criticized Cousins after their loss to the Bears, believes Cousins is playing like the guy that they thought he would be in 2019.

“That is just the kind of guy he is,” Thielen said on Sunday. “He is going to learn from his mistakes each week. He is going to go back and watch the film and figure out what he needs to do better, just like we all do. You go back after a win or loss, and you look and say, “Well, could I do better?” He is a guy that we trust every week, he is going to give us his all, and he is going to keep getting better. He is going to prove that he is a top quarterback in this league and that he can play at a high level. You saw that today.”

On Friday, Cousins’ former teammate in Washington and current Eagles LB Zach Brown, called Cousins the “weakest” part of the Vikings’ offense. According to WR Stefon Diggs, who caught seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns against Philadelphia, Cousins answered a lot of questions on Sunday.

“As for former teammates, their personal opinion doesn’t matter,” Diggs said. “I think Kirk answered all your questions. He went out there and played his butt off.”

Cousins had a great two weeks against some bad secondaries(Giants and Eagles), so let’s keep that in mind, but to see him play this well has to be exciting for anybody associated with the Minnesota Vikings. And if it continues, Minnesota is going to be tough to beat moving forward.

Giants’ Golden: ‘We lost the game, so I wasn’t as excited about(playing the Patriots close before coming up short)’

A loss is a loss, and when Pat Shurmur boils it all down, the reason for a loss never radically changes.

“I think we didn’t make enough plays, we made too many mistakes to win a football game,” Shurmur said on a conference call today following his team’s 35-14 defeat at New England.

There’s no disputing that statement. The Giants gained just 213 yards, compiled only 10 first downs, were two-for-10 on third-down opportunities and committed four turnovers, including three interceptions on Daniel Jones passes. They allowed both a defensive (on a fumble return) and special teams (blocked punt) touchdown.

Shurmur and his players won’t use it as an excuse, but they played shorthanded. Their top two running backs, Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman, and two leading receivers, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard, were all inactive due to injuries. If the Giants are going to win their next game – at home against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 20 – and enjoy success over the season’s final 10 games, it’s clear they need as many contributions as they can get from those players.

“We’re 2-4 and we’re certainly going to welcome anyone back that can get healthy to play against Arizona,” Shurmur said. “Everybody talked about the players that were injured and weren’t able to be with us last night, so yeah, I’m looking forward to getting everybody back. It’s a good thing when you’ve got a lot of healthy scratches when you put your 46-man (game day roster) together, so we’re looking forward to that. I think we’ll get through this weekend, and we’ve already started, but put all our effort into beating Arizona.”

Asked specifically about Barkley, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year who has missed three games with a sprained ankle, Shurmur said, “We’ll see, we’ll see. He’s made good progress. He was out there running around today, so we’ll just have to see what the week brings.”

Prior to the game, football pundits gave the Giants little chance to win. The absences of the four key offensive players – who collectively accounted for an average of 227.4 yards in the first five games – was a major factor. But so was the opponent. New England is the defending Super Bowl champion, is now 6-0 and has the NFL’s top-ranked defense. The Patriots have also won 19 consecutive home games, including playoffs.

But the Giants trailed by just 21-14 entering the fourth quarter. New England scored two late touchdowns to balloon the final margin. Instead of feeling satisfied they kept it close, the players were angry they lost, despite the circumstances.

“We came into the game expecting to win the game,” Jones said. “Maybe other people were surprised, but I don’t think we were. We have a good football team. I don’t think we’re going to let this affect our confidence. When you look at last night, a lot of credit goes to the defense and how well they played. They kept us in the game. On offense, we know we can play better and we have to play better. We expected to be in the game, we expected to win the game. Obviously, we’re disappointed, but there are things to learn from it.”

“I am a win and loss guy, so I always go off of wins and losses,” said linebacker Markus Golden, who scored on a 42-yard fumble return and had a half-sack. “We lost the game, so I wasn’t as excited about (playing the Patriots close before coming up short), but there was a lot of positives that came from it after watching film. We did a lot of flying around, working together, a lot of guys were doing their job. That part is exciting, but at the end of the day, we want to try and get that win.”

Much of that will depend on the continued growth of Jones, who is now 2-2 as the team’s starter. For the first time, he completed less than 50% of his passes (15 of 31). The three-interception game was his first. But Jones continues to show toughness and smarts in and out of the pocket and an arm that can make any throw required of him.

As he does with injuries, Shurmur refuses to use the crutch of inexperience when assessing Jones’ miscues.

“I think, regardless of whether you’re in your first year in the league or you’ve been doing it for a very long time, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong,” Shurmur said. “I think it’s fair to say that some of the things that Daniel’s going through, he’s going through for the first time. Part of his charm is he’s willing to try and fit it in there. I think he’s very accurate and he’s got good velocity on his throws, so he’s got confidence to get the ball in there, and he did that last night. Those were not the most ideal conditions to be throwing the ball at times, and I thought he made some really good throws. On the flip side of that, there were some things that happened on the interceptions that need to get corrected. That’s part of it, for all quarterbacks, and it’s a fine line between being aggressive and putting the ball in harm’s way. I think each play and each time he goes through it, he’ll learn something from it.”

Jones was picked off by John Simon in the first quarter, Duron Harmon in the second, and Stephon Gilmore in the third. Each turnover will be stored in his memory bank and used to prevent a repeat of the offending pass.

“That’s the biggest thing for me, is to prevent making a mistake twice,” Jones said. “I don’t think the fact that I’m young or the fact that I haven’t played much, it isn’t an excuse. I don’t think that helps. I’m not going to use that to help myself feel better. But there are still really bad mistakes, things I can’t afford to do. The challenge is I have to be able to learn from those and to prevent them from happening again.”

That will be easier to do when the Giants offense is again at or near full strength.

*Shurmur said defensive tackle Olsen Pierre’s concussion was the only injury of note from last night’s game.

*The Giants today re-signed quarterback Alex Tanney and waived running back Austin Walter. Because they had just two healthy backs, the Giants yesterday signed Walter off their practice squad and released Tanney. Walter played one snap vs. the Patriots.

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Jags’ OC on Minshew: ‘I think that you see an organization believe that he’s going to go out there and perform’

When Jaguars QB Nick Foles went out with a collarbone injury in Week 1 against the Chiefs, many thought Jacksonville’s chances of making a playoff run were over. No way anyone thought a sixth-round pick could save the season. Well, after five weeks, that sixth-round pick, Gardner Minshew, is doing just that.

Minshew has done his best to keep the Jaguars’ season alive. He is 2-2 as a starter, and the Jaguars(2-3) are only one game out of first place in the AFC South, and at this point, if Minshew continues to play well, he might continue as the starter when Foles returns.

According to Jaguars offensive coordinator John Defilippo, Minshew is playing well because of what he is doing away from the field.

“I think it’s as much off the field as it is on the field,” Defilippo said on Thursday. “I think he trusts his preparation. I think anytime you go through game week after game week after game week; I think you get into a routine. I see him much more comfortable in his routine throughout the week.

“On the field, I just think it has more to do with the ten guys that are around him than it does him. I just think you see the other 10 guys believe. It was kind of an unknown for all of us when he went in there against Kansas City when Nick went down on play [No. 11]. I think you see an organization, not only players and coaches, but I think that you see an organization believe that he’s going to go out there and perform. That is a credit to him.”

It’s very evident that the Jaguars do believe in Minshew, and while Jacksonville has invested a lot of money into Foles, Minshew may have shown enough for the team to think about moving on from Foles. However, that decision won’t be made anytime soon, but for now, the team continues to get behind Minshew.